Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Umpires take center stage in Hsieh, Kyrgios matches


Pierre-Hugues Herbert serves to Nick Kyrgios during their US Open second-round match on Thursday in New York.

Photo: AP

Another Grand Slam, anther rules row for Dominika Cibulkova in a victory over Hsieh Su-wei.

The Slovakian blasted US Open officials after she was docked two points for returning late from a 10-minute heat break before the third set of her 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4 victory over the Taiwanese player.

“She told me I was one minute late. I’m getting two points’ penalty. You cannot be serious,” Cibulkova said.

She said that unlike players on the massive Ashe and Armstrong stadium courts, those toiling on more distant courts must trek through the crowds to reach air-conditioned sanctuary for the breaks.

The 10-minute breaks are allotted in matches that go beyond straight sets under the tournament’s extreme heat policy that was in force on Thursday for a third straight day.

“It took me, I think, more than three minutes walking through the people, because there were so many fans and so many people,” said Cibulkova, who played on court 17 — the fourth show court.

She had no time for the cold shower or ice bath that other players have used to cool down. After changing her clothes and making her way back to the court to start the third set, Cibulkova was stunned to be told by the umpire “it’s going to be love-30.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Is it my fault it takes so long to get from where you send me to go to change to the court? I think it’s just not right.”

At Wimbledon, Cibulkova lambasted officials over a controversial line call in her 6-4, 6-1 fourth-round rout of Hsieh.

Cibulkova called it “ridiculous” that Hsieh successfully persuaded the umpire to replay a point that was initially called in the Slovakian’s favor and would have given her three set points in the opening set.

The dispute saw the match bogged down more than seven minutes, with a supervisor called to the court to weigh in.

On Thursday, Cibulkova soldiered on to finish out what she called “one of the top three toughest matches in my career.”

“With the conditions and the way we played ... it gives you a lot of confidence because you didn’t give up,” said Cibulkova, who booked a meeting with Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer set-up a third-round clash against Nick Kyrgios, who found himself at the center of an impartiality row after an umpire climbed down to tell him: “I want to help you.”

Second seed Federer, 37, made it 18 wins in 18 second-round appearances in New York by seeing off error-plagued Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

Also going through were Wimbledon champion and two-time US Open winner Novak Djokovic and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova.

However, women’s second seed Caroline Wozniacki was knocked out by Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

Kyrgios reached the third round by seeing off France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-0.

The match created a storm after umpire Mohamed Lahyani lost patience with the under-performing 30th seed and climbed down from his chair to tell the Australian, trailing by a set and 3-0, to try harder.

“I want to help you,” Lahyani could be heard saying. “This isn’t you. I know that. You are great for tennis.”

A furious Herbert said that Lahyani had over-stepped.

“The umpire doesn’t have to talk to him at all. The only thing he can tell him is pay attention, because if you continue like this, I’m going to give you a warning,” the 27-year-old said.

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